Text Box: pianist autographs


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Price: $550.00



Autographed Vianelli Fratesi of Venice cabinet photograph, December 2, 1886, the pianist has written “Evviva Borodin!!”. 

Blumenthal (1829-1908) was born “Jakob” in Hamburg, Germany.  After study with pianist, composer and conductor Friedrich Grund in Hamburg.  He went to Vienna, where he studied piano with Carl Maria von Bocklet (Franz Schubert and Frederic Chopin’s friend) and composition with Simon Sechter (Anton Bruckner, Franz Lachner, Franz Schubert, Henri Vieuxtemps’s teacher) at the Vienna Conservatory.  He left Vienna in 1846 and went to Paris where he enrolled at the Conservatoire and studied under Henri Herz and composition under Fromenthal Halevy.  When he finished his studies at the Conservatoire in 1848, rather than going back to Germany where there was a Revolution, he, along with Sir Charles Hallé and several German musicians in Paris went to Great Britain.  He settled in London, changing his first name to the French Jacques, rather than the Germanic Jakob, or Jacob.  He also apparently converted to Christianity for convenience.  His social personality and musical abilities caught the attention of Queen Victoria and he became the Court Pianist to the Queen. The Spectator recalled at this death in 1908 that his style of playing was “finished and delicate”. As such he taught her children to play the piano, gave frequent recitals and produced morning musicales for the Queen.  Blumenthal would culminate those concerts in an annual “Grande Morning Musicale” in London each year. He gave frequent concerts throughout Great Britain, his rival so to speak from his youth in Hamburg was Otto Goldschmidt and also according to his obituary in The Spectator,  “Blumenthal’s touch was equal, if not superior to any other pianist I’ve ever heard, and his readings of Beethoven and Chopin, stamped with his own individuality, showed in every detail the patient though and study he’d given them.”   He also gained entrée into the aristocracy and became the piano teacher of choice to the children and of both the court and the wealthy as well.  According to the Music Courier of July 15th, 1908, after his death, he was the wealthiest musician in Great Britain, due to all of these lessons for the wealthy.  He was able to retire from the stage and most of his lessons in 1868 and enjoy married life, running musical parties in his home and enjoying his Summer home in Geneva.  That said, he was known to be extremely charitable towards other musicians, musical groups and clubs, as well as the poor.

Blumenthal was also a composer of mainly salon pieces for pianoforte and small chamber groups, as well as songs.  The like of  Sims Reeves and Edward Lloyd frequently programmed the songs, Marie Pleyel the pianist frequently programmed his piano pieces.  After his death, the copyrights to his music were valuable and his wife donated them to the Royal Society of Musicians for their benefit.

The note about Borodin is intriguing.  The composer Alexander Borodin by 1886 stopped travelling due to a heart condition and unfortunately he passed away quite suddenly the following year.  His friend Franz Liszt praised his compositions in 1877 and was the first to perform Borodin outside of Russia, with two concerts, one of each of his two Symphonies in Germany in 1880.  Borodin’s music slowly reached mainland Europe after this.  In 1885, with help from a patron, Countess Maria de Mercy-Argenteau, with wealth and connections helped the spread of “modern” Russian music in Belgium. Borodin’s music finally had a significant champion with the financial power to sponsor concerts.  “The Steppes of Central Asia” which Borodin completed in 1880 and dedicated to Liszt as a thank you for his two concerts was in vogue and received a variety of performances by 1883 and significant ones throughout Europe almost from its’ inception.  As it does not appear Borodin’s music reached Great Britain until 1887, Blumenthal must have attended a concert in mainland Europe.  He did not visit Russia this year.  Therefore, his comment would appear to have been written after he heard a performance of a Borodin work.

An unusual and quite rare autographed cabinet card.